With acknowledgement and empathy for all of its responsibilities, a human resources department must navigate a minefield of legal risks.

Beware: Many problems are not caused by HR professionals but by managers who don’t use best practices.

So, it’s obviously a challenge to avoid expensive obstacles to success that can result from even seemingly minute mistakes. They will adversely affect the entire organization.

Here are the common mistakes to avoid:

1. Recruitment

Inappropriate gender verbiage in advertising in recruitment job announcements can be hurtful.

Poorly written job descriptions in advertising result from managers who try too hard to recruit the best applicants. They need to be more realistic in describing responsibilities.

Sooner or later, unhappy employees will depart resulting in a waste of new recruiting time and money.

Illegal questions of applicants in interviews lead to lawsuits, especially questions that are too-personal or concern protected areas.

Unintended semantics in job offers that appear to be employment promises and contracts. Merely mentioning a yearly salary can give the wrong impression or implication.

Actually, consider stellar talent-recruitment strategies.

2. Bumpy starts

Undesirable beginnings occur if the employer is misleading applicants on working conditions; failure to advise state officials of a new employee; or not informing new hires of the organization’s conditions of employment.

Don’t forget to use best practices in probation meetings to insure a good start.

3. I-9 and records

Fiascos in failing to record and verify past practices will result in legal hassles if treatment of workers violate company policies and the law, and if the employer followed past practices.

Happening far-too often are failures in I-9 requirements and maintaining separate files.

4. Non-competes

Non-compete agreements won’t hold up in court if an employer requires a non-compete but doesn’t give up provisions in other matters.

5. Poor communication

By not communicating well, employers face consequences by not advising workers of changes in policies and procedures; inappropriate discipline or workplace investigations; and poor implementation of performance appraisals or avoiding EEOC complaints.

6. Misclassification and remuneration

Inappropriate classification of workers in exempt or non-exempt status is another troubling area. At the least, employers must properly evaluate employee responsibilities, training and salaries.

A word about confidentiality: Especially with the evolution of social media and to avoid conflict with the National Labor Relations Act, employees can’t prevent their workers from talking about their pay.

7. Privacy

Some employers fail to notify workers not to expect privacy in using company computers. Or in some states, employers encounter difficulty if they don’t advise workers they’ll be monitored digitally.

Naturally, an HR department must confidentially keep all employee information.

8. Making accommodations

Employers often fail to provide accommodation opportunities such as in religious participation; pregnancy; military duty; and for disabled workers.

Disabled persons have frequently had both valid and invalid complaints about the workplace. Therefore, take steps to effectively manage ADA issues.

While you’re at it, review your current policies on unpaid leave requirements.

9. Supervisorial training

Supervisors must be trained to avoid discrimination in actions or comments, as well as to avoid racism, sexism, otherwise rudeness or workplace bullying.

Another common error resulting from inadequate training: Disciplining an employee without best practices in a paper trail of evaluations.

Actually, you’ll optimize talent management if you develop a coaching culture.

10. Workplace investigations

Improper workplace investigations occur when there isn’t proper oversight to avoid errors. So use best practices in workplace investigations.

11. Dignified endings

Whether an employee is terminated for cause or resigns voluntarily, some companies fail to take steps to make sure the worker leaves in a dignified fashion.

From the Coach’s Corner, more explanations in these relevant articles:

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary.

Management – How to Alleviate 10 Trending Issues in HR — Along with the 21st century revolution in technology, there have been dramatic changes in human-resources management in every industry and profession. This means there are many pitfalls to avoid in our evolving litigious society.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks — If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

“Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs.”

-Peter Drucker


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.